Justice Kennedy: For the Three Strikes Law Before He Was Against It?
Earlier this month, Justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court spoke out against the California’s Three Strikes Law and the influence of the prison guard union over Golden State correctional policy. In an editorial today, the New York Times points out that when Justice Kennedy had the chance to overturn the law as unconstitutional, he passed:
Under the three-strikes law, a man named Gary Ewing was sentenced to 25 years to life for shoplifting three golf clubs from a golf pro shop.
Mr. Ewing challenged his sentence before the Supreme Court as a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Kennedy in the majority, the court rejected the challenge.
P.S. I know, I know, my headline is a bit glib. Of course, holding that a law is constitutional does not necessarily mean you think the law is swell. And, Doug Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy points out problems with the NYT editorial, namely its “inane and pernicious … assertion that ‘[m]uch of the blame’ for California’s three-strikes law ‘lies with the Supreme Court.'”
P.P.S. Speaking of the Three Strikes Law, check out this interesting post over at California Corrections Crisis on the law’s historical antecedents.